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How do you check if a product is real?

Check the product packaging

The product packaging is the first place to look when checking if a product is real or counterfeit. Here are some tips for inspecting the packaging:

Look for any typos or grammatical errors

Counterfeit products often have typos, misspellings, or grammatical mistakes on the packaging. This is because counterfeiters don’t have access to the original design files and often just try to recreate the packaging. If you see any errors, it’s a red flag that the product could be fake.

Examine the quality of the printing

Genuine product packaging will have high quality printing and coloring. Look closely at images and text on the packaging. Counterfeit printing is often blurry, faded, or misaligned.

Check for differences from the original packaging

Compare the packaging to images of authentic packaging, either online or the original product if you have access to it. Look for differences in fonts, colors, images, and materials. Even small differences could indicate a counterfeit.

Watch for missing or incorrect labels

There will often be missing labels like “new” or “limited edition” on counterfeit packaging. Other labels like company logos may be incorrect or placed in the wrong location on fakes.

Inspect the product itself

Once you open the packaging, you’ll want to closely inspect the actual product for signs it’s counterfeit:

Look for differences in textures, colors, or materials

The textures, colors, and materials used in genuine products are hard for counterfeiters to replicate. If details look or feel off, it’s probably a fake.

Check for any differences from the real product design

Counterfeit products often get small details of the product design wrong. Examine things like stitching, logos, buttons, zippers, and any text or numbering.

See if the weight or density feels correct

Genuine products will have the expected heft or density based on the materials used. If a product feels too light or heavy, it could be a red flag.

Look for any smells or odors

Counterfeit products sometimes have distinct plasticky or chemical smells from low quality materials and adhesives used. The genuine product shouldn’t have any odd odors.

Inspect quality of construction and materials

Authentic branded products are constructed from high quality, durable materials. Check for things like flimsy stitching, plastic parts that should be metal, or damage/wear that shouldn’t be there on a new item.

Research the seller and source

If inspection of the product itself is inconclusive, do some additional research to determine if the seller and source seems legitimate:

Look up the seller online

Do some searches on the seller or company name plus words related to “fake” or “counterfeit”. This can turn up any bad reviews or news about the seller dealing in counterfeit goods.

Check if the seller has a real physical address and contact info

Counterfeiters won’t have genuine contact information. Look up their address on Google Maps to see if it seems real. Call phone numbers to see if anyone answers.

Compare to an authorized retailer

See if the seller is on the brand’s list of authorized retailers. If not, it’s a higher risk for counterfeits. Stick to authorized retailers when possible.

Look into the product source and supply chain

Counterfeiters hide details of where and how products were made. Legitimate sellers will share verifiable details on manufacturing and distribution channels.

See what others say in reviews

Look for reviews on the seller that specifically mention receiving counterfeit goods. This is usually a clear sign to avoid them.

Use authentication technology

Many brands now use special technologies to help consumers authenticate real vs. fake products:

QR codes and NFC chips

Scan product QR codes or NFC chips with a phone app from the brand. This will verify the product’s authenticity.

RFID tags

RFID tags contain unique serial numbers. Brands can confirm if the tag is legitimate and associated with a real item.

Hologram stickers

Holograms are hard to duplicate. Scan them with a phone app or examine them from different angles to look for the security features expected on real holograms.

Blockchain verification

Some brands now use blockchain to assign digital fingerprints or ownership records to physical products. This data can be checked to authenticate items.

Digital watermarking

Invisible digital watermarks applied to products can be revealed using an app. Only genuine products will show the authentic watermark expected.

Do a further examination of high risk products

For very high value or highly counterfeited items like luxury watches or designer handbags, you may want to take extra steps:

Get an expert appraisal

Take the item to be examined by an expert appraiser who works with the brand. They will spot very tiny details that indicate fakes.

Send to a professional authentication service

Companies like Entrupy and Real Authentication specialize in using technology and expert examiners to authenticate luxury items.

Buy directly from the brand

When buying products prone to counterfeiting, go directly to a brand’s own site or physical store when possible. This eliminates the risks of fakes entering the supply chain.

Avoid deals that seem too good to be true

Deep discounts on luxury brands, coveted limited editions, or high demand items are almost always counterfeit. Stick to reasonable prices.

What to do if you receive a counterfeit product

If despite your best efforts you end up with a counterfeit product, here are some tips:

Report it to the platform you purchased from

Reporting the counterfeit item helps get fraudulent sellers removed so they can’t keep selling fakes.

Inform the brand

Brands want to know about counterfeits so they can help combat fakes and protect customers.

Contact your credit card company or payment provider

You may be able to get your money back by doing a chargeback if you paid by credit card.

Leave a review to warn others

Post a review detailing your experience receiving a counterfeit item. This helps alert future buyers.

Avoid the seller going forward

Don’t purchase from a seller again after receiving a counterfeit product from them. Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me!

Protecting yourself from buying counterfeits – A summary

Here are the key tips covered in this guide for avoiding counterfeit products:

Tips for buyers What to look for
Inspect packaging Typos, blurry printing, differences from original
Examine product Wrong textures, colors, smells, quality
Research seller Bad reviews, lack of details, not authorized
Use authentication tech QR codes, RFID tags, blockchain
Get expert appraisal for high risk items Luxury watches, designer handbags
Buy directly from brand Avoid risks of supply chain fakes

The most important thing is to trust your instincts – if something seems questionable about a product, seller, or deal, it’s best to avoid it. When in doubt, only buy from reputable authorized retailers and sources. With the right precautions, you can have confidence you are receiving authentic, genuine products.


Counterfeit products can range from slightly inferior knockoffs to completely unsafe and illegal fakes. By learning what to look for and buy from only trusted sources, savvy consumers can avoid being fooled by counterfeits. Carefully inspecting products, researching sellers, and using authentication technology gives you the best chance of identifying real versus fake items. Taking some simple precautions helps ensure you get the real, high quality products and brands you pay for.